I am Ian Madrigal, the activist behind the Monopoly Man stunts. I am a lawyer, strategist, and creative protestor that trolled Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, for all 3.5 hours of his Congressional hearing on December 11, 2018 (highlight reel here: https://twitter.com/wamandajd/status/1072936421005148162). Beyond making people laugh, the goal of my appearance was to call attention to Google's growing monopoly power and Congress' failure to regulate the tech space or protect user privacy.

I first went viral in October 2017 under my given name (Amanda Werner - I'm trans and use they/them pronouns) when I photobombed the former Equifax CEO at his Congressional hearing. I also trolled Mark Zuckerberg - literally dressed as a Russian troll - and helped organize the viral protest of Trump cabinet secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, at a Mexican restaurant after she first announced the child separation policy.

Ask Me Anything! And then follow me at www.twitter.com/wamandajd or www.facebook.com/MonopolyManSeries

Proof: https://twitter.com/wamandajd/status/1073686004366798848 https://www.facebook.com/MonopolyManSeries/posts/308472766445989

ETA: As of 12/18/18 at 11:34 PM, I am officially tapping out. Feel free to take any lingering questions to Twitter or Facebook! Thanks for the great chat, everyone.

Comments: 1018 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

maguslod1999 karma

I love the term "cause-play" that you have used. Do you have any other characters you might bring out in coming year?

wamandajd1329 karma

I do have some in mind! Monopoly Man is a classic, but I would never want the character to feel stale. I try my best to match the "cause-play" tactic to the moment though, so it is hard to plan them out too far in advance. But I can tell you about one of my favorite ideas that I never got to use!

Y'all remember that former EPA Chief Scott Pruitt had a million and one scandals, including that he tried to use his official position to get his wife a Chick-Fil-A franchise? I wanted to find Pruitt and photobomb him dressed as one of the Chick-Fil-A cows. But instead of "Eat Mor Chicken," my sign would say "Eat The Rich."

I am so sad I didn't get the opportunity before he resigned in disgrace. But I do still have a cow onesie.

4now5now6now132 karma

Thank you for your activism. There is a group Public citizen that had Amanda Werner did a fantastic monopoly man at the Equifax hearings. Have you ever thought of forming a group of well informed and trained monopoly men? They could have synchronized monocle gestures and moustache twirling? Oh big duh on my part that was you. With all of your education and activism I really hope that you run for office. I will donate and phone bank for a progressive platform... all over the country.

wamandajd149 karma

Yep! Same person, different name. :)

I do not plan to run for office myself, but I will continue being an activist in the public eye and helping hold our elected officials accountable.

punsforgold14 karma

I will through in some money, do you have a go fund me or something?

wamandajd160 karma

I have had a lot of people reach out and ask me if I have a Patreon or GoFundMe. But I am fortunate enough to have stable employment, so I haven't needed to take up those offers right now. If I ever need funding for a bigger project, I will let folks know!

If you still feel inclined to donate though, I would welcome donations to the TransLatin@ Coalition - a great organization doing crucial work: https://www.translatinacoalition.org/donate/

sxnaprkhr3012985 karma


wamandajd1748 karma

These hearings are all open to the public! For the more popular hearings, you have to get in line early, sometimes hours before. But it is actually not too hard to do.

If I want to surprise folks, I will wait to put on my costume inside - though I have definitely walked in in full costume before. There are certain restrictions about what you are allowed and not allowed to do once inside, but silly costumes and facial expressions are fair game.

MyParentsAre_Cousins241 karma

If I ever worked in the Capitol I'd probably make a game out of hiding weird non-threatening items in suitcase to put through the x-ray machine. I interned on the hill a few years ago and a lot of the Capitol police were really chill and had a good sense of humor. I always wore a large western style belt buckle with my school logo on it and most of them just let me through. I had a couple give me a hard time for being an A&M fan. And there were a few who would just be fussy with me because I had a belt buckle on.

wamandajd149 karma

Haha, I am definitely looking forward to seeing the Capitol police's reactions to my various gags and props in coming years. They tend to have a pretty good poker face though.

splatter72950 karma

What do you think about adding Scrooge Mcduck as a costume?

wamandajd542 karma

Hahaha that could be a fun one! And the lack of pants may not be a problem. For my Russian troll gag (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVJEnVGV6-M), I originally planned to just wear a flesh-colored bodysuit.

But where can I set up an inflatable pool filled with gold coins?

splatter72161 karma

Wife suggested making the pool with a hulahopp or waders & use chanukah gelt for your coins.

wamandajd154 karma

Smart. Will consider.

The tricky part is that you can't usually wear masks inside. So I would have to figure out a way to pass as a duck without covering my face. But I will see what I can do...

MUCGamer117 karma

I don't know if they still make them or not but back in the 90s you could get Donald duck hats at Disney where the bill of the hat was a literal duckbill and the eyes were on the front of the hat. Something like that would probably be enough

Edit: I think this is like the one I had, but i'm pretty sure it got thrown out long ago otherwise I would gladly donate it for the cause.

wamandajd57 karma

This is wonderful. I am sure someone on ebay still has them.

ComradeRoe6 karma

I hope the gelt has been melted inside the coins first, or I think that's still gonna hurt.

wamandajd14 karma

No pain, no gain my friend.

pedropedro123606 karma

Do you know the Monopoly Man doesn't really have a monocle? I mean it's great for the costume I just wanted to know if you knew that.

wamandajd866 karma

Yes, I was aware of that going in - and people have reminded me at least once a week for the past year.

It was a conscious decision on my part to add a monocle. For one, it is a great sight gag, and prop comics need props. But monocles also hold a special place in my heart because my sister bought me one as a gag gift when I graduated from law school. This seemed like a great opportunity to use it!

VictorVoyeur506 karma

Just because he's not drawn with a monocle doesn't mean he doesn't own a monocle.

wamandajd556 karma

Good point - the Monopoly Man can have whatever he wants! Nothing can stop a man who controls the water works.

St_Bernardus81 karma

monopoly man totally has a monocle. We know it even if he doesn't show it.

Vio_72 karma

What? The monopoly man has two lens glasses?

No, he's the monopoly man: he's has a monocle, his sound is set to mono, he only speaks in monosyllables, and he owns exactly one monorail.

wamandajd84 karma

And he suffers from mononucleosis.

wamandajd56 karma

But don't get any ideas - it was passed to him monogamously.

PAdogooder42 karma

Protesters that think hard about well-formed jokes are my favorite kind of people. So glad you exist!

wamandajd27 karma

Thank you! That is very kind.

General_Jeevicus14 karma

love a good monocle

wamandajd32 karma

It is strange how large the monocle seems to loom in American culture, even though it has been well over half a century since they were even remotely popular.

General_Jeevicus6 karma

Ahhh no I am from the UK

wamandajd7 karma

I meant that we love a good monocle too!

CrazyDuck123504 karma

Have you receive any treats for making these trolling acts?

wamandajd913 karma

I am not sure if you meant threats or, like, rewards. So I will answer both.

I have once been threatened with arrest in the Senate Judiciary Committee (Senator Grassley is decidedly NOT a fan). I didn't do anything unusual in that hearing - and really, was much better behaved than normal. But I saw some Republican staffers whisper in the ear of the Capitol Police, followed by an officer coming over and telling me if I touched my bag of money or leaned forward or whatever other ridiculous thing, they would immediately arrest me. I had a flight to catch that day so couldn't risk it.

Oddly enough, at another hearing where I was protesting the child separation policy, I tried to get arrested and was allowed to stay. It doesn't make a ton of sense. I have been fortunate enough not to receive other threats yet - though I am well aware that as an outspoken queer/trans person on the internet, they could start up at any time.

As far as rewards, the vast majority of my actions have been uncompensated, though I have had really cool opportunities come out of being Monopoly Man. For instance, last year a party promoter in San Francisco used my image in their New Year's event flyer. I reached out to them, and they flew me out to be a special guest at their party.

I have had a lot of people reach out and ask me if I have a Patreon or GoFundMe. But I am fortunate enough to have stable employment, so I haven't needed to take up those offers right now. I have directed people to donate to other orgs doing great work though. So far, thousands have been donated in my name. The one I am boosting at the moment is the TransLatin@ Coalition: https://www.translatinacoalition.org/donate/

Mr-Blah372 karma

I am not sure if you meant threats or, like, rewards. So I will answer both.

I didn't catch the typo in op's comment so I thought you treated threats as rewards. I was impressed with the size of your balls.

wamandajd145 karma

Hah! I guess every hero does need a nemesis.

CrazyDuck12394 karma

That's excelent! Yes i meant threats, sorry, not my native language.

2suomalaista60 karma

Dont be sorry. The best way to learn is to make mistakes. There really isnt any other way.

Oh yeah also: You're the one that has learned a different languange, you shouldnt be sorry for making small mistakes, you should be proud that you have put in the effort and time to learn a new languange from almost nothing. Its a skill you possess, use it.

whenigetoutofhere4 karma

So not on topic, but it is an AMA, after all. This is so encouraging to hear though. Learning a new language can feel oddly solitary when self-taught, and I find myself eschewing opportunities to practice/make mistakes for no good reason, but you've definitely thrown new light on the mindset I should have. Your reply wasn't for me, necessarily, but it was what I needed to hear, so thank you for your kind words!

wamandajd5 karma

Just want to chime in and say I really enjoyed this whole interaction. Y'all are great.

Venus1001210 karma

How many times have you trolled someone with that costume?

wamandajd385 karma

I think Monopoly Man has made about five appearances in hearings at this point. It would be great to take it outside of Congress more often, but it seems like the ruling class is taking great pains to avoid public events in the past couple years. Perhaps they can sense the growing public outrage over income inequality?

Crazy_Mann181 karma

Have you ever won a round in Monopoly?

wamandajd268 karma

I believe I have as a kid! I am actually pretty good at capitalism, but this zero-sum system brings out many of humanity's worst instincts.

diffcalculus90 karma

brings out many of humanity's worst instincts.

So like the actual Monopoly game? got it!

wamandajd157 karma

Exactly! And the game was actually invented a leftist named Elizabeth Magie to highlight the unfairness of capitalism.

More of that history here: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/11/secret-history-monopoly-capitalist-game-leftwing-origins

Timothysanders153 karma

Can you troll the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte next?

wamandajd217 karma

He definitely qualifies as a corrupt politician! If you know someone is going to be in and around a public place in DC, feel free to DM me on Twitter. I am always open to leads and ideas.

ChandramouliDorai128 karma

Hi Ian,

I love the way you protest and fight for privacy. As a person working for a tech company in a marketing role, what would you suggest us not to do and what to do with respect to user privacy? Are you okay with anonymous tracking? Without tracking, do you think companies can serve customers better?

How do you see the new laws like the GDPR?

wamandajd123 karma

Thanks for the questions! First and foremost, individual tech companies should disclose their user privacy and data use policies in a meaningful way. Too many companies bury them in the fine print of a hundred page user agreement. It is also crucial to allow users to affirmatively opt-in to more controversial practices. I think anonymous tracking can be okay when it is truly anonymous, but if we don't have clear legal standards for what that means or penalties when it is violated, I find it hard to trust the company to do that ethically.

I think regulations like the GDPR are helpful. There are aspects of that regulation that will need to be tweaked as we see how they function in practice. But I think it very positive to finally have a set of standards that apply to all companies equally, and I hope it moves other countries to adopt their own so we can figure out what works best.

I think it is especially important that GDPR has established clear fines and punishments if user privacy is violated. For too long, tech has operated like the Wild West, and it has been left to the whims of legislative bodies to mete out any consequences when user privacy is breached.

Moving forward, we need something like GDPR in the United States, as well as ongoing federal and multinational oversight from professionals who actually understand this technology. With any rapidly-changing technology, we need rapidly-adjusting regulations that protects users without stifling innovation. It will take a lot of energy and expertise to strike that balance.

smash_the_stack74 karma

What is your proposed solution to Google?

wamandajd236 karma

I think Google and other tech giants have done a lot of good in the world. They help us access a wealth of information and keep people connected across the world. However, as we rely more and more on their products for every facet of life, we cannot trust these huge companies to regulate themselves.

Under U.S. law, a corporation is required to put the interests of its shareholders above all else. This creates a dangerous set of incentives that leads to corporations valuing profit over morality – especially when the company gets so big that it doesn't have any real competitors.

I would like to see an overhaul of U.S. corporate law to create better standards. But at the very least, Congress needs to establish clear laws that protect consumer rights within these new technologies, especially around data privacy and net neutrality.

Sadly, from Tuesday's hearing, it is clear that our lawmakers do not understand how this technology works, let alone how to regulate it.

j4_jjjj56 karma

Having employees be the shareholders would alleviate a lot of the problems of the current system. I believe employees should have the right to pool resources and buy the company when ever a M&A happens.

wamandajd81 karma

^ This. Worker-owned cooperatives have incentives to be better corporate citizens.

smash_the_stack5 karma

I appreciate the response, but please skip the politician type fluff. Saying you want change is meaningless. What would you want to see done about Google? Please provide specifics, otherwise se I don't see what you hope to accomplish from this AMA.

Edit, typo.

wamandajd13 karma

I get more into this below, but we need strong legal protections around user privacy. We can't rely on each individual tech company to set its own standards - especially since consumers often can't even figure out what those standards are. We need these practices to be disclosed in a meaningful way, and not simply in the fine print of a hundred page user agreement. And users should have more freedom to affirmatively opt-in.

I work in consumer protection, not specifically tech policy. So I am not the person to set all the details that legislation should cover. But the fact that we do not have any legislation covering user privacy is absurd. I also think we need ongoing federal oversight from an agency that is properly funded and staffed with people who actually understand this technology. Right now, there are very few regulations around anything these tech giants do. That is a huge problem, and the solution will not a simple, one-time thing. It needs to be ongoing.

I would like to see something like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (before Mick Mulvaney and Kathy Kraninger defanged it) that oversees the tech space.

RufusMcCoot70 karma

Just curious, what's the reason behind they/them pronouns? I've heard of being comfortable with either masculine or feminine pronouns, but I've never heard of plural pronouns. Please educate me on this. An example or two wouldn't hurt either.

wamandajd139 karma

This is a helpful article with examples and advice: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/they-them-questions-answered We use gender neutral pronouns in the singular all the time. We just don't think of it that way. For example, "The bank called earlier." "Oh, what did they say?"

They/them feels most natural to me because my own experience with gender has been complex. I am also comfortable with he/him, but I think it is important to normalize gender-neutral pronouns. There is no reason that we have to gender every interaction we have with people. People read my gender all sorts of different ways, and it feels really uncomfortable to have people assume something about me that feels very intimate (also they are very often wrong).

TheMagnificentCazMo65 karma

I understand these hearings are public and sometimes they let you in while wearing a costume. In the Google CEO hearing, you had a prop money-bag. Does security inspect your props, or do you have to smuggle your money-bags in? How does that conversation go?

wamandajd113 karma

When you first enter the Congressional office buildings, you have to go through a metal detector and put your bags through a conveyor belt, like at the airport. So in that sense, they inspect my bag of money, but they have never hassled me about it.

The security officers at the entrance tend to be used to these kind of antics. Few protestors make it into the hearings themselves, but there are often people in costume protesting in the halls of Congress. So I guess it doesn't phase them! I have had a comment or sly smirk here and there, but mostly, they treat me like anyone else.

Ilsyer10 karma

Do you ever give a sly smirk back? 😏

wamandajd13 karma

Pretty sure I have resting sly smirk face tbh

psyk73817838 karma

Is that your real mustache?

wamandajd138 karma

If only! I order them from a costume supplier.

But I did start HRT a few months ago, so maybe I will be able to grow one of my own at some point.

taphophilestl59 karma

I was almost mad that you were a boy taking credit for something I saw a girl do--then you said you were trans and I was relieved lol Keep up the good work and congrats on your transition! 💖

wamandajd59 karma

Hah, I was afraid people might think that. But nope - I am the one true Monopoly Man! 🧐

nopantts38 karma

I have a few legit questions. Why do you feel the need to tell people your sexual orientation? Does it add to the discussion or give any value to what the topic is about?

Hope you answer, and thanks for reading if you do.

wamandajd48 karma

I didn't mention my sexual orientation here, so I am not sure if you are referring to my Twitter bio (which notes I am queer) or that I mention being trans above. But either way: those aspects of my identity impact my life every day. They inform many of my experiences and are a big part of what drew me to activism.

Especially since this is a forum where folks are getting to know me and asking personal questions, they seem even more relevant. I have no shame about those identities, so I am as happy to talk about them as I am anything. Also, visibility is important. I would have had a much easier time if I had any bisexual or trans role models growing up. I hope my being out and open about it helps the next kid, or any grown folks in that position.


Why use they/them pronouns? I understand people being trans but never got the pronouns. Wouldn’t you want to be called “he” if you were transitioning to a boy?

Not trying to be rude.

wamandajd70 karma

While I do feel more masculine than feminine, they/them feels most natural to me because my own experience with gender has been complex. I spent 25+ years with the world reading me as a girl and as a woman and still identify closely with many of those experiences, even though that identity never really fit. I never felt like a woman, but I was still treated as one, and those experiences had a lasting impact on me.

I am also comfortable with he/him and am not offended if someone uses it, but I think it is important to normalize gender-neutral pronouns. There is no reason that we have to gender every interaction we have with people, and my life would have been much easier if there was less focus on this. People read my gender all sorts of different ways, and it feels really uncomfortable to have people assume something about me that feels very intimate (also they are very often wrong).

Thizzmonk28 karma

Do you really think you made a difference besides people being all "lol he dress like monopoly man"?

wamandajd97 karma

Yes, I do. The stunt was discussed in more than 45 articles about the hearing so far, and most of this coverage includes an explanation of why I was there. So, in practice, my stunt inserted the issue of Google's monopoly power and a lack of regulation in tech into dozens of articles that would have otherwise ignored this issue. Steering conversation in that way helps set the cultural conditions we need for meaningful reform in this area. I also used the visibility and support I received to steer thousands of dollars in donations to the TransLatin@ Coalition. And I have a blast doing it!

All in all, a solid use of 3.5 hours of my time.

fennric28 karma

Hey Ian! I love your work, and think it's great that you're bringing some sheer beautiful silliness into genuine hard-hitting activism. (Also, from one transmasc type to another -- love the fashion blog.)

My question: I know you have a very strong foundation in law studies, hence being able to give a well-grounded defence of what you're advocating. But what do you think can be done by those who don't quite have that educational background? (and/or -- what would you do if you didn't have it?)

wamandajd39 karma

Thank you! It does help me to have a legal background. People seem to get a kick out of how quickly I can switch from silly humor to deeper policy critiques.

However, I don't think you need a formal education in law and policy to do what I do, or to be active in politics and organizing. For one, the internet allows anyone to access a wealth of information on these topics. If you are interested in an area of policy, you can read up without necessarily getting a degree.

But also, there are many areas of law and policy that are not actually complex. I think most people have gut instincts about justice and inequality that can serve us really well in protest. You don't need me to explain the history of corporate law and data privacy for people to feel outraged when the CEO of Equifax gets a slap on the wrist for exposing the private data of 145 million Americans.

I think it is helpful to understand the nuances of policy when you vote, lobby your representatives, or seek to influence legislation. But no one has to be an expert to understand basic principles of right and wrong. We all have a right to be active here.

lurkaderp24 karma

Everyone’s hung up on the monocle, but why don’t you use your real name, RICH UNCLE PENNYBAGS?

Also, you are awesome — please keep up the good work!

And do you prefer to take the car, wheelbarrow, or battleship to work?

wamandajd30 karma

I actually prefer to take the shoe. I am a humble man of the people at heart.

thinkB4WeSpeak23 karma

Do you think the US is in a new gilded age? Do we need to focus on Monopolies or oligopolies?

wamandajd70 karma

I do. Income inequality is at its highest level since at least 1928, and corporations wield far more legal power and political influence than ever before. The financial crisis in 2008 showed us what is at risk for anyone not in the top 1%, and many people working in financial regulation see the signs of another financial crisis coming. If that happens, I expect we will see an even greater concentration in wealth at the very top, especially if it happens in a Republican administration.

I don't think we have to narrow it down to monopolies or oligopolies. In practice, oligarchies can be just as oppressive as monarchies. We should be concerned about any outsized concentration of money and power. Everyday people deserve to have a measure of control over their daily lives. It should not be up to the whims of our political leaders or a handful of corporate CEOs. "Market forces" mean nothing when the people have no meaningful market power.

ETA: corrected some typos.

emem04522 karma

Do you have larger plans for your activism? Either by pairing up with other activists to work on projects together, or trying to bring your messages to a larger platform?

wamandajd46 karma

Yes! I am working to spread the gospel of creative activism and team up with other folks using innovative tactics to spread a message. Now that I have a platform, I want to use it to amplify voices of concerned citizens and marginalized people.

I actually recently announced that I am working with Fine Brothers Entertainment to pitch a TV show centered on this premise: http://realscreen.com/2018/09/27/fine-brothers-amanda-werner-partner-on-political-activism-prank-pilot/

The idea for the show is that, each episode, I would team up with local activists and organizers, and we would work together to plan and carry out a big theatrical stunt like Monopoly Man, tailored to the issue of the week.

We are just in the pitching stage right now, but I am really excited for this concept to come together! People are really awakening to activism right now, and this show would be a funny and entertaining how-to guide - almost like Queer Eye for activists.

leaguesplayer5516 karma

What made you want to do this?

wamandajd22 karma

I've always been willing to make an ass out of myself to make someone smile or to send an important message. This stunt gives me an opportunity to do both.

For the original stunt, a co-worker suggested someone dressed as the Monopoly character for an action we were doing, passing out leaflets to all the Senate offices to oppose a bill that was basically a get-out-of-jail-free card for Equifax. I knew that the Equifax hearing was taking place that same week.

As an advocate, I had been in those hearings before, and I knew that if you sit close enough, you end up in the background on C-SPAN. It makes you very aware of every facial expression and movement. So it occurred to me that, instead of putting all my energy into trying not to stand out on camera, I could do the opposite and use the hearing as a tool to steal the spotlight and bring attention to my campaign.

Once that idea occurred to me, I had no hesitation at all to make it happen.

iAMnotAtrollTODAY14 karma

Monopoly man doesn't wear a monocle. How often do you cut yourself on that edge?

wamandajd11 karma

I prefer to use it to trim my mustache.

quas1stellar12 karma

Has any politician commented about you being there?

wamandajd55 karma

Jeff Flake tweeted about me once: https://twitter.com/JeffFlake/status/928287363046002688

But no, usually they try their best to pretend I am not there. I am honestly impressed that no one has laughed yet. I am usually in their full view.

Vorenvs11 karma

How did Zuck react when he saw you?

wamandajd28 karma

I don't know if he ever saw me in person! He got special treatment. They had the room set up so that none of us could get near him. I had some folks saving my spot in line for five hours ahead of time, so I should have been right behind him.

But instead of the usual hearing setup, they had him seated on one side of the room, then like 12 back-to-back tables of reporters, and then the audience on the opposite side of the room. It was absurd! If I had been able to photobomb him throughout the hearing, the coverage of that hearing would have been really different (and I'd probably be kicked off Facebook...)

jameskiddo10 karma

how do you get such great positioning at these hearings? arrive early? look for camera positions?

wamandajd25 karma

It is really crucial to snag the first or second spot in line. I have been lucky enough to be able to send interns, friends, or other folks to save a spot for me, so that I can swoop in the last 30 minutes and catch the witness off guard.

Once you have that spot, it is really just about paying attention to the camera position. It always requires a bit of maneuvering because there is usually a row or two of people in front of me. But if I can see the camera lens, people can generally see me. I also sometimes pull a live feed up on my phone to check and reposition if needed.

CurleeBS10 karma

I live in DC. Can I buy you a drink?

wamandajd13 karma

Sure! Come to one of the events or protests I boost every few weeks and say hey.

TheLegendOfMikeC10 karma

What message do you hope people take from seeing you at these sessions?

wamandajd22 karma

I have a few goals for my appearances. First and foremost, I hope that my being there encourages people to tune in and actually pay attention to these hearings. Even though many elected officials simply use them to grandstand, I hope that knowing their constituents are watching will encourage members of Congress to actually pass meaningful legislation or at least get tougher with these CEOs.

Second, when I appear as Monopoly Man, I am there to highlight how corporate greed and money in politics has gotten out of control. I use humor to satirize the reality of our current system. Members of Congress may berate a CEO for a couple hours, but 90% of the time, they go back to doing his bidding once the cameras turn off.

I also hope my creative protests can inspire others to get active in politics and try new tactics. There are many urgent threats in the world, and I know many folks are feeling burned out on anger and outrage. There are many ways to protest, and sometimes laughter and absurdity are what we need to cut through the bullshit and keep moving forward.

thebeerbabe8 karma

Where do you stand on the Net Neutrality fight?

wamandajd16 karma

Net Neutrality is one of the most pressing issues of our time. A free internet is what allows activism like this to get traction without relying on mainstream media. The internet has been a hugely democratizing force for the world, and if we allow internet service providers to restrict or slow our access to certain content, we are turning over one of the biggest tools for freedom and connection into a weapon to further entrench inequality and corporate power.

If you want to get active in this fight, I encourage folks to go to https://www.battleforthenet.com/

rr3dd1tt8 karma

Is your name “Ian Madrigal” an anagram of “I Amanda girl” or something like that?

wamandajd29 karma

Hah, I didn't even realize it had Amanda in it. That is pretty funny.

Nah, it's not that deep. Ian is what my parents had planned to name me had I been assigned male at birth. Madrigal was inspired by a trans character in a book series that meant a lot to me growing up - Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. (Although fans will know that anagrams play a big role with her character, so that is a fun coincidence).

Oddly enough, I did throw the name in an anagram generator when I first thought of it, but nothing with Amanda came up. The best one I found was "a marginal id" or, if you include my middle initial, "daring salami" lol

parfaitdream8 karma

On a serious note, what are your goals? What is your personal opinion about user privacy and child separation? Thanks for the AMA!

wamandajd21 karma

I answered the goals question above, but I believe we need strong legal protections around user privacy. We can't rely on each individual tech company to set its own standards - especially since consumers often can't even figure out what those standards are. We need these practices to be disclosed in a meaningful way, and not simply in the fine print of a hundred page user agreement. And users should have more freedom to affirmatively opt-in.

Also, it baffles me that any of us have to actually say this out loud, but: I am absolutely against a policy of separating children from their parents, holding them in conditions of squalor and abuse for months or years, and ultimately making it extremely difficult for them to ever be reunited with their families. This policy is an absolutely outraged and will be a shameful moral stain on this country for years to come. We should all be doing everything we can to end it.

bozobozo8 karma

What is your favorite dinosaur?

wamandajd46 karma

Growing up, my favorite was the Allosaurus.

My least favorite dinosaur is Congress.

GodverdommeCoffee7 karma

Have you ever been recognized on the street for your role as Monopoly Man? What's the general attitude people have when they find out that was you?

wamandajd17 karma

Surprisingly rarely! Out of costume, I feel a little like Clark Kent. I don't look that different, but no one ever seems to recognize me.

Funnily enough, even when I am in costume, I often go unrecognized. Last year - just three weeks after the original Monopoly Man stunt went viral - I showed up at a few Halloween parties in DC as Monopoly Man. People were like "Oh, you're dressed like that Monopoly protestor. Nice costume." I had to explain, no, that's me!

People are generally pretty excited when they find out it was actually me, but everyone seems a little skeptical at first! Haha

Elon____Musk7 karma

Do you use Google as your search engine, or something else?

wamandajd10 karma

I use DuckDuckGo, Elon.

lazyasianstudent7 karma

How did you get started and what gave you the idea specifically for the Monopoly Man? Thank you in advance!

wamandajd14 karma

I started off as a policy advocate in DC! I moved out here after graduating from law school, and my first job was as a Legal Fellow in Senator Elizabeth Warren's office. After that, I moved into doing policy campaigns for nonprofits. A big part of that job is getting the media to cover your issues, so I spent some time trying to figure out how to communicate about corporate power in ways that would interest people.

Monopoly Man came together when a co-worker suggested someone dressed as the Monopoly character for an action we were doing, passing out leaflets to all the Senate offices to oppose a bill that was basically a get-out-of-jail-free card for Equifax. Since the Equifax hearing was taking place that same week, I figured I could take it up a notch and try to get on camera in the hearing. That way, I could steal the spotlight and use it to make more people aware of my campaign against the forced arbitration clauses that let corporations like Equifax get away with hurting consumers.

alexl886 karma

Who are your biggest inspirations? And perhaps unrelated, what are your favorite TV shows?

wamandajd18 karma

Gosh, there are so many! I draw inspiration from a wide variety of sources and people. I do have to give a special shout-out to the woman that brought me to DC: Senator Elizabeth Warren. Most folks do not know her backstory, but she is an inspiration to me as someone who never planned to run for office and truly represents public service. Of course, she also offers a great example about how to hold CEOs accountable - and embarrass them on the internet.

I am also continually inspired by all of the dedicated activists I have met, worked with, and befriended over the years -- Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, transgender rights advocates Sarah McBride and Charlotte Clymer, organizers like Heather Booth, academics like Kimberle Crenshaw and Cheryl Harris... the lists go on.

I am also fortunate enough to have met regular people doing incredible work. In the last few years, I have seen friends start their own organizations, launch media projects, produce videos, start book clubs in women's prisons, pass legislation in their home states. Dedicated people with a clear purpose are unstoppable.

wamandajd23 karma

And TV! Yes. My absolute favorite medium at the moment.

I think the Good Place is the best show on television right now. It is downright brilliant and, frankly, a dream would be to write for them or work with them in some way. I also love other Mike Schur projects, especially Parks and Recreation. I grew up on vintage Simpsons, and much of my humor is still informed by it. And of course, the Golden Girls.

ScalaZen5 karma

Who else are you going to troll next or would like to troll?

wamandajd16 karma

I am always open to trolling corporate CEOs and corrupt politicians. I don't want to give any future targets away, but there are some folks I have an eye on.

Previous targets include: now chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney (when he was testifying as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), Kathy Kraninger (nominated as Mulvaney's replacement), Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirtjen Nielsen, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Equifax, and of course, Sundar Pichai.

meltingspark2 karma

I am glad you are not working for google because honestly that what I was thinking when I saw you. My thought was, "man watch this shit be the headline and not all the other very important issues being covered". Just glad you seem to be on the peoples side.

Have you ever thought that maybe your efforts are actually pretty distracting? Not trying to bash or hate, just genuinely wondering what your angle is on this is?

wamandajd3 karma

I recognize that my antics can be distracting, so there is an important balance to strike. I try to be very purposeful about what I am doing at all times. I usually save my silliest gags for slow moments and fade into the background when members of Congress are asking truly tough questions.

I never want to distract from the important exchanges, but I have had many people reach out to tell me that they wouldn't have known various hearings were happening if they didn't see me go viral. So I feel confident that my appearances do a lot more good than harm.

mwthecool2 karma

Hey Ian, what would you say to those looking to get into the same brand of activism that you've been taking part in?

wamandajd2 karma

I recently gave a talk at American University all about this. Anyone who is interested can watch the whole thing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkMT7wZ-nF8&t=3918s

But in a nutshell: I would say come join me! I know activism can seem really daunting - like you need to be a professional or an expert. But I think the last two years have demonstrated how much of a difference everyday people can make. Groups like Indivisible show the power of organizing in our local communities. Creativity is a big part of that.

Like it or not, our elected leaders respond to media coverage. And, with every news outlet rushing to cover Trump's Twitter feed, it can be really hard to break through. But if you can confront those in power - especially in a clever and interesting way - people will want to see it. It doesn't have to be a major CEO or member of Congress. It could be your mayor, city council, or local business leaders. People in power are all around us, and it is often social niceties that keeps us from speaking our minds. We need to be willing to put ourselves and our message out there.

Another tool we have is social media. More and more, news outlets are taking their cues from what goes viral on these platforms. That gives us an opportunity to push our own content out there, and if we can strike a nerve in the public, your message can spread far and wide. Monopoly Man works because I get in front of the cameras that are already there, but you can also put together your own video or content using a smartphone and send it off into the world.

TheYolk2 karma

How many moustaches do you have?

wamandajd3 karma

Tuesday's stunt maxed out my mustaches! I just have those four. Compilation video here: https://twitter.com/wamandajd/status/1072936421005148162

But I've only been at this for a year. I feel like one mustache per quarter is sound investment advice moving forward.

springerguy13401 karma

IMO, I think you set the standard in protesting for today's environment. Since I watched the google hearings, it made me do a little reasearch on the issue and quite frankly you. I've now changed my search engines on all my devices and family's as well to Duckduckgo. I also pay a little more attention now...Thank you so much.

Now my question I guess is trivial compared to other issues today....but how do we stop the IMO intrusive ads that clearly the providers (FB, twitter ect. ect.) track what you're surfing or Alexa(ing)...Since I signed up(5 min. ago) for Reddit(because of you btw) there is a product to the right of my page for a product I'm "thinking" about purchasing for my child for Christmas....drives me crazy...any suggestions other than cutting myself off from social media and emails? I mean my car radio(sirius satellite) knows i have a CPAP machine and need to clean it(insert the Surprised emoji)...scary.

Take Care and have a wonderful holiday season and a New Year from my family to yours.

wamandajd1 karma

Thank you! I am so glad I can bring new people into these issues and the larger fight. Happy holidays to you as well.

Other folks on Reddit can probably give you better tips than I can to avoid the intrusive ads, but I think switching to DuckDuckGo will help ease some of that. I would recommend also going deep into user preferences for Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, etc. and opting out of much of their tracking. Many of these platforms do allow you to protect your data, but it takes a lot of energy. This article is a helpful starting point: https://globalnews.ca/news/4110311/how-to-stop-targeted-ads-facebook-google-browser/

You can also look into downloading an ad blocker. That won't stop you from being tracked, but it will stop you from actually seeing the ads.

Are there specific products other folks would recommend?

ConsciousPossible1 karma

What do you do at Revolution Messaging?

wamandajd1 karma

I just joined Revolution Messaging a month and a half ago as a Strategy Director. We are a digital strategy firm that works with progressive nonprofits and candidates running for office. We offer digital tools, graphic design, video production, as well as campaign consulting to help hone a message, recruit new supporters, and target those in power through digital organizing. It has been really great working here so far! It expands the universe of issues that I can bring my creative eye to.

greenasaurus1 karma

Any relation to Madrigal automotive?

wamandajd6 karma

Nope! It is a chosen name not my given name, and my inspiration came from the book series Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin.

RobertThorn20221 karma

It think these are hilarious, thanks for making us laugh! Have you ever considered joining the YES MEN?


wamandajd2 karma

I have gotten a lot of comparisons to them! I have never talked with anyone from the Yes Men before. But I am always open to collaborations and, in fact, have a few in the works.

Feel free to send me any ideas!

IndictmentsAreComing1 karma

You're a fucking G. How do you handle you massive golden balls?

wamandajd5 karma

I usually keep them in a private safe at my bank. 💰

OddTitan41 karma

What do you think the average teenager (in either America or Canada) can possibly do?

wamandajd8 karma

Even if you are too young to vote, teenagers can do a lot to hold politicians accountable. Go to protests, attend organizing meetings (either on specific issues or with your local Indivisible chapter), speak your mind, and encourage people in your life to be active too! Also, if you are so inclined, throw on a costume and go troll someone with a lot of money and power. :)

I think March for Our Lives has set a great example for young people looking to make a difference, and many brilliant young organizers are leading the way with Black Lives Matter and the fight for queer/trans liberation.

Voting is an important part of organizing, but there 364 other days in the year to be active in politics. It is never too early to get involved!

ArunChaudhary0 karma

Ian! Big fan but first-time asker. When you get into character and have to stay in character for such a long time, are you pantomiming the whole time, that is to say performing, or do you find a certain behavioral equilibrium inside you and stick with that?

wamandajd2 karma

I would say I perform 90% of the time the camera is on me, but that can mean different things. When members of Congress actually ask hard-hitting, meaningful questions, I try to be more low key so people pay attention what they say. In general, I am always listening to the questions and answers and try to give appropriate facial reactions - whatever that may be.

But it does get tiring! These hearings are usually at least two hours. I believe the Facebook one went for something like five hours. I try to stay the entire time if I can, since I know some people watch just for me.

antiposting-11 karma

Why hide behind a pseudonym?

wamandajd14 karma

It's not a pseudonym. I am transgender and in the process of a legal name change.